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Electrum: Standard Deviation
2001, Net Dot Music, NDM-2002
CyberHome(s): http://www.ElectrumMusic.com

Standard Deviation by Electrum is a collection of strictly instrumental progressive rock compositions in a fairly conventional rock format. The group has put forth a great effort in the composition of instrumental tracks that have been implemented with refined and polished playing, and delivered in a tactful, well-produced package. The composition presents the listener with some interesting influences in style that span a wide range of conventional and instrumental rock that are woven together into a unique, comprehensive, cohesive style that posesses plenty of drive and direction.

The sonic soundscape of this album is a little difficult to convey in words because it is pretty unusual.  Though there are speedy spots of playing on the album, the album is not speed-centric.  Instead, it seems that the overall musicality and musical vision is the center of attention.  There tends to be a harder-edged feel to the tone and playing, though this is balanced nicely with cleaner-toned, less aggressive ideas.  The instrumentation is advanced, very intensive, and deploys some very tactful technique and phrasing, yet it does not venture out into the virtuoso-type pyrotechnics you might find in the more progressive fusion or neoclassical of the world class players.  But, the composition is good enough to overlook this consideration and the overall musicality is what makes this effort worthwhile.

The band sounds like they have assimilated many influences from a lot of different venues of rock and progressive music.  The end result of the open-mindedness of the members to different influences has a very interesting materialization in the music.  Overall, the album kind of reminds me of what Queensryche might sound like if they nixed the vocals, integrated some progressive keyboards, and added some serious depth to their composition.  There is a good sense of melodic and thematic development that is balanced with well-felt, aggressive feel and musical direction.  And, these are definitely not easy things to accomplish in original compositions, so I have to give credit to Electrum for their efforts here.

I have tried to figure what the conducively receptive audience for this album might be and I am a little unsure because this album seems to fall somewhere inbetween conventional rock and the virtuoso-based instrumental rock that most instrumental fans are inclined to listen.  But, I am thinking that, like me, many fans of instrumental music will appreciate this album for the well-conceived compositional content, good production, well-felt playing, and enjoyable music that it posesses.

1) The Will To Power
2) Degrees Of Freedom
3) A Tense Bow… A Moving Target
4) The Impudent Piece Of Crockery
5) A Fugue State
6) Apartment Living
7) Seven Falls, Eight Rises

~ Christopher Ruel ~ www.ChrisRuel.com ~ Chris@ChrisRuel.com

Electrum: Frames Of Mind, (CD 63:25); independent release 1998
Contact info: 
Email: tomservo@nh.ultranet.com
Cyberhome: http://www.nh.ultrnet.com/~tomservo

	Electrum is Gino Foti on bass guitar and synthesizer, Dave Kulju on guitar and synthesizer 
with Joe Musmanno on acoustic and electronic percussion.
	Well . . . this is one of those CDs that needs to grow on ya. First listen, decent stuff, but not 
leaping at ya  . . . second listen, hey that was cool there -- nice touch. By the third or fourth listen 
Electrum will find that comfortable niche in your prog psyche or instrumental, chamber rock, 
ensemble progressive music just isn't your thing.
	This band is barebones in their sound, no flash, rock-steady, with near antiseptic perfect 
execution of time signatures. The sound dances around you with very little room to spare, 
meaning the reverby, "big production", layering of effects is nonexistent. You are right there, 
sitting in the studio with them in a very "live", niteclub, aural ambience without the smoke and 
clinking bottles. Some people call this "thin" or  "home studio" but to me it lends intimacy.
	At times the first track, "Ascension", the keys reminded strongly of Larry Fast's Synergy 
efforts but with a Rushish band backing him up. "Reverie" follows with a drifting, daydreamy, 
sailing away feel yet with the infusions of incisive progrock changeups here and there but 
staying "on target". Next in line, "Measure of an Unmade Grave" shows a strong hint of King 
Crimson and the heavier feel of Rush or perhaps Djam Karet. It's a hard call with these guys. 
Guitarist Kulju shies away from overdrive and distortion remaining crisply "clean" most of the 
time so when he rocks out it leaps at you. Not overpowering but deftly "in your face". Foti 
stretches some on this track just as Kulju leaps in with a mighty Frippish explosion that lasts 
only seconds. Restraint, restraint, and more restraint. I dunno, this may seem picky but these 
guys could easily stretch more and pull out the stops more often. I felt teased into the finale 
where finally Kulju and Foti crank it, but again not for long enough to suit my fusion tastes.
	During the title tracks four and five I found myself propelled into the next two and I never 
noticed a break in that Electrum sound. Songs on this CD are more symphonic movements than 
individual, distinct entities. Inevitably, you have a "concept" album. The concept in fact is 
Electrum's signature flowing compositions. They embark on a journey, a quest. The feel is 
adventure soundtrack, interspersed with snippets of guitar in rhythmic tight grooves and/or 
rolling picking of open chords. Power chords appear in a Rushly attack with King Crimsonic 
odd-time plucking and distortion pushing the string-synth keys aside. Foti and Kulju are in sync 
much of the time until Kulju solos in his usual time-constrained agenda.
	Electrum is at times like a progrock machine, a pre-programmed, metronomic automaton, 
relenteless in its course. Synths return in that very Larry Fast mode. There may be moments of 
dissonance or tension but release is always attained just in time by Kulju's tendencies toward 
subdued or clean guitar. Foti's basslines are faultless, tight, driving and relentless. Musmanno 
never grabs attention but maintains a steady even-handed, capable drumming at all times.
	This is tough for me to say but . . . half of the time Electrum has the feel of  "easier listening" 
progressive rock. Imagine Manheim Steamroller begins emulating Rush and King Crimson 
whilst getting into Larry Fast on the side. You'd get a "softer" prog. Electrum offers quality neo-
prog with a careful attention to detail but merely skirting the rock of progrock. Some out there 
will find Frames Of Mind just right but to me prog needs more passion, more "soul-fire" and less 
crystal-clear precision. -- John W. Patterson

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